Gwyneth Paltrow wishes ‘sweetest’ Chris Martin a happy birthday - how exes can successfully transition to friends
Gwyneth Paltrow has wished her ex-husband Chris Martin a happy birthday, describing him as “the sweetest father and friend” in the post.
The Goop founder, 50, shares two children, Apple, 18, and Moses, 16, with Coldplay frontman Martin, 46.
Proving the former couple maintain a positive relationship since their split in 2014, the Iron Man 3 actor posted a selfie of the pair to Instagram with the caption: "Happy birthday to the sweetest father and friend. we love you, cajm."
Unsurprisingly the touching tribute went down well with the wellness entrepreneur's followers, with many of her fans praising the public note of affection for her ex.
"I love that you two have remained friends! Says a lot about both of you," one user wrote.
"Divorced couple goals for sure," another added.
"Best examples of conscious uncouplers ever!" yet another fan commented.
Paltrow and Martin tied the knot in 2003, before announcing they were embarking on a “conscious uncoupling” in March 2014.
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The former couple, who have remained close since the split, used the phrase in a statement announcing their divorce, which was later finalised in 2016.
Paltrow later revealed that she and Martin had been introduced to the phrase by a therapist, but admitted she initially thought it sounded “a bit full of itself, painfully progressive and hard to swallow”.
After the divorce, Paltrow, who also runs the wellness and lifestyle brand Goop, went on to marry TV producer and screenwriter Brad Falchuk.
Paltrow has previously discussed the amicable relationship she maintains with her ex, explaining on The Drew Barrymore Show in 2020 about how her divorce was “better” than her marriage.
“I really wanted my kids to not be traumatised, if it were possible,” she explained. “Chris and I committed to putting them first and that’s harder than it looks, because some days you really don’t want to be with the person that you’re getting divorced from! But if you’re committed to having family dinner, then you do it… you recommit to this new relationship you are trying to foster."
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Is it possible to have a positive relationship with your ex?
Paltrow's most recent post about her ex offers a hint that relations between the long-term former couple are friendly.
Indeed, there can be many benefits to maintaining a positive relationship between former partners and moving from lovers to friends.
"Just because your marriage has ended, doesn’t necessarily need to mean the end of your friendship, especially if the breakup is a mutual decision," explains break-up coach Sarah Woodward.
"This can be more difficult if one partner is heartbroken, but there’s nothing to say you can’t be friends in future once you’ve healed.
"Often in a marriage our partner ends up being our best friend and soulmate and it can be devastating to lose this. Working together to find a way to move forward and maintain that friendship can be beneficial to both parties and reduce the loss involved."
Jude Clay, 39 from Hampshire, who runs parenting and relationships blog Gluing Cheese, knows only too well how beneficial being on friendly terms with your ex can be.
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Clay separated from her son’s dad in 2017 when he was two-years-old and has been co-parenting ever since.
"We split amicably with great intentions to remain friends and provide the loving family network which our son, TJ, needs," she tells Yahoo Life UK.
"We have both since moved on and found new partners – he has remarried and had another child and I am about to move in with my partner next week."
Though she says it wasn't easy to make the transition from lovers to family, having been together since 2007, she believes it has been worth it.
"My advice would be to manage expectations. It’s very easy to think that some things will remain constant, such as messaging each day or even spending regular time together as a family, but life will find a new balance and those things may just gradually stop happening and that’s OK.
"We don’t need to cling to something from the past to move forward," she adds. "Relationships don’t always end nastily and some elements, such as a friendship, can survive. But others won’t. Acknowledging that really helped me."
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Clay says her and her ex husband keep a united front as much as possible for their son, who is now eight-years-old.
"We even had a huge Mario themed birthday party for him where all four parental roles wore fancy dress costumes," she adds.
"But it’s very different to the friendship we expected to hold onto when we first split in 2017. It’s not been easy over the years but the foundations of respect, trust and faith in each other’s ability to parent have kept us going and I hope they will continue to do so as well."
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How to transition from lovers to 'family'
While Clay was able to successfully switch her relationship from lovers to friends, it isn't always an easy transition to make.
We asked the experts for some tips to navigating the relationship shift.
Re-jigging or evolving your relationship from that of partner and lovers to friends or platonic family is a process that can take time. "Being aware of this is helpful," explains family mediator, Louisa Whitney from www.lkwfamilymediation.co.uk.
"It might take time for this to feel normal or natural and that’s OK, she continues. "If you both have a shared objective about keeping things amicable or supporting your children then it helps to re-focus on that during the more challenging moments."
If you’re finding things difficult Whitney suggests focussing on what needs to be resolved now and looking at longer term issues later. It’s OK to make temporary plans pending more permanent ones later.
"Hold on to where you want to be even if you’re not there right now," she adds.
Boundaries are really important and it can take time to learn where you both feel comfortable.
Caron and Glenn Barruw, psychotherapists, relationship experts and founders of The Niche Group have put together a list of areas you should set boundaries about from the beginning.
Managing common friends
Seeing the children (if children are involved)
How much time you spend together
What you spend your time together doing: Is it short meetups, walks in the park or the cinema, day trips or longer family vacations?
How much of one another's family do you see
Contact level: "Some of our ex-couple patients now prefer to Whatsapp and message each other rather than talking on the phone so they do not get into emotional fights," they explain.
Dating someone new: "It is common for the initial boundaries to get confused when one person begins dating someone new, especially if one person did not want to transition. So it's important to revisit them at this point and if necessary, set new ones," they say. "At the end of the day, the couple should ask themselves 'did we have a strong foundation as friends before we became lovers' - if so, it helps to focus on that as a strong bond moving forward," they add.
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Be open and honest
Talking about things is really crucial. "Don’t struggle with something you feel uncomfortable with," suggests Whitney.
"Explain how you feel and try to do this as calmly and constructively as possible. Telling someone how they’ve messed up usually provokes a defensive response.
"Explaining how you might work things in a better way together often provokes a more collaborative response."
Get the support you need
You might need a safe space to offload and you might feel like you need help healing.
"Having a therapist or coach or other professional to offer emotional support and guidance can be invaluable," Whitney adds.
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Try to avoid blame
This will be made easier from the April 6 with the introduction of the no fault divorce law in England and Wales.
"Both take responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the marriage," Woodward adds.
Be respectful of each others feelings
Be kind and compassionate to one other.
"You will both be grieving the end of your marriage, but you may well be at different stages in that process," Woodward explains.
"If one of you is further along in the process be kind and compassionate to your ex-partner if they are struggling."
Work on your co-parenting
If there are children involved, Woodward recommends trying to put them first at all times, and keeping things amicable in front of them.
"It is difficult to come to terms with not seeing your children all the time, but make sure you’re excited for them when they’re going to spend time with the other partner and be interested in what they’ve done when they get back, so they don’t feel awkward."